Structural glass is often perceived to be a contemporary building material with significant use in new build projects but the benefits of incorporating architectural glass in heritage buildings and restoration projects should not be overlooked.
Peter Hazeldean, MD of glass specialists Ion Glass is an enthusiastic advocate of the use of glass within a whole variety of older buildings from ancient village churches or listed homes to national treasures such as the Tower of London or Tate Britain.
“Glass is astonishingly functional and, correctly specified and installed, it can provide the optimum solution in so many situations. We have installed acoustic glass for sound-proofing, fire-rated glass doors linked to alarm systems for maximum security, glass rooflights with ‘walk-on’ non-slip surfaces and glass screens across the full width and height of a church interior to improve heat retention.
“The beauty of glass is that it can be installed without obscuring the original architecture and of course it doesn’t impede the flow of light, especially important in churches with stained glass windows.
“Use of architectural glass opens up exciting opportunities to make significant changes to the functionality of the space. A restricted urban location can make it impossible to extend a building externally but installing a mezzanine floor can utilise space within the building with minimal impact. A glass balustrade ensures an unrestricted view.
“Glass is also invaluable in providing a structural link between a heritage building and a modern extension and is often stipulated by conservation bodies such as English Heritage as it provides a visual separation between old and new as well as an interface between old and modern construction techniques.”
Recently Ion Glass were commissioned by Holy Trinity Church in the heart of fashionable Chelsea to install a lobby with glass doors inside the entrance of the church along with two substantial structural glass rooms to provide space for private meetings and individual counselling.
Built at the end of the 19th Century the church is a testament to the Arts and Crafts Movement and features a magnificent stained glass window which was the largest ever made by William Morris & Co.
The new double doors allow people to see into the church whilst at the same time excluding draughts, avoiding heat loss and providing an acoustic barrier to shut out the noise of the traffic.
The doors are hinged from fixed side panels with a single glass transom panel above, stabilised internally with minimal glass fins. Each set of doors is designed to work in sync with each other to ensure that one set is closed before the other set opens and that left and right doors close together.
“The doors are very modern and very functional,” said Peter Hazeldean, “but we wanted the installation to reflect the spirit of the church and it’s impressive Arts and Crafts heritage. We recommended the application of a manifestation on the glass in keeping with a motif that appears on an intricate metalwork screen within the church.”
In addition, two rooms entirely constructed from structural glass, allow an unhindered view of the nave. The entire space was created from acoustic glass, providing a wholly quiet and private environment. Moving an original metal screen from the rear of the church to the front of the new meeting rooms retained the style of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Accurate measurements taken around the stone corbels ensured the glass fitted precisely. “We use a combination of laser surveying and a templating comb, transferring the information directly to CAD for a perfect result. Depending on the circumstances our technicians will produce templates in wood, or even 5mm glass.”
Employing a heritage glass specialist, such as Ion Glass, is recommended for any installation in an older property. Peter Hazeldean continued, “There’s a much greater level of sensitivity required throughout the project both in ensuring the design is wholly compliant and functional; meets the requirements of conservation bodies; is aesthetically pleasing and is installed with minimal impact on the original fabric of the building. We’re exceptionally proud of our track record on all counts!”
For more information about Ion Glass visit www.ionglass.co.uk or to discuss your project call 0845 658 9988.